How do you thank someone for doing something above and beyond themselves? How do you thank a community for saying, “Yes, what you do is important to us?”

Recently Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena ran headlong into a financial crisis when federal, state and private funding suddenly and unexpectedly was not provided. We had planned for some cuts, but were surprised at the amount, the depths and the suddenness of the expected money disappearing.

We called out to Helena and let the community know we were in danger of closing. We had already cut our operating expenses. We had already let a third of our staff go. We had already cut some programs, and didn’t have any answers to keeping the doors open, but to request emergency help from the community.

Boy, did Helena respond. Our crowdfunding page got lots of responses and support. Our individual pleas and requests got more – demonstrating the individual caring and concerns we in Helena have for each other. We were fortunate enough to have a Mexico vacation donated to us to help, and people signed up for that drawing as well. Finally, our regularly scheduled Bowl for Kids Sake event brought together Helena again for a fun event, and helped us. To help, the Attorney Generals Office, the Lewis and Clark Sherriffs Office, Helena Police Department, the FBI and the Montana Highway Patrol challenged each other in what was called the Battle of the Badge to see who could raise the most for the Bowl for Kids Sake. Our thanks to all of them, and congratulations to Sherriff Leo Dutton’s office for raising the most.

Its well known that we can either spend some money to support kids while they’re in school, or we will likely spend more money for jails. Helena has spoken, and thank you for supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters. While we’re not out of the woods yet -- we have some breathing room to figure out how to continue to provide services to kids who would benefit from having an adult mentor in their lives. Just a couple of hours a week, makes a tremendous difference for kids. We sadly had to cut some programs and that hurts, but thanks to your support, we didn’t have to close the doors. We look forward to figuring out how to re-build our core program.

And, as you can imagine since we provide a direct service and are a nonprofit, we will continue to need the community’s support to continue on. But for now, we’ll stay open and serve the kids and our volunteers.

Thank you Helena, and everyone individually who supported us in our time of need.

Peter Strauss is the Big Brother to Isaiah and the board chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena.